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Lamu miraa traders count losses as customers fast during Ramadhan

Tuesday April 19, 2022

They are forbidden from chewing gum or miraa and instead focus on reconnecting with their maker.

Miraa traders in Lamu have not been making profits since the holy month of Ramadhan started on April 1.

There is also reduced demand for miraa from neighbouring Somalia, which offers Lamu traders a huge market for the produce.

Lamu Miraa Traders Association chairperson Ibrahim Kamanja said more than 10 boats usually take miraa to Somalia, but the number has dropped to two.

Kamanja said it has become difficult for traders to sell even half of their stocks as most of their customers are Muslims.

During this month, Muslim faithful are strictly expected to stick to praying and fasting while staying away from consumption of ‘unholy’ substances such as miraa and drugs.

Kamanja said they have also been forced to drop prices as they wait for the prayer month to end.

“We are doing badly. Most of our customers are Muslims who are now observing the fast. To guard against losses, we are now selling a kilo at Sh2,500 instead of the usual Sh4,000. It's a loss but it is seasonal. We shall recover when Ramadhan is over,” he said.

Yusuf Ahmed said he is barely surviving without his daily kilo of miraa and is looking forward to the end of Ramadhan.

“Don’t get me wrong, I know how important Ramadhan is and that’s why I am observing it. We are forbidden from chewing gum or miraa and instead focus on reconnecting with our maker. But I can’t wait to grab a few kilos once I'm done,” he said.

Shahibu Mnawar, a boat operator who ships miraa from Lamu to Somalia, said he has taken a month-long break to focus on the prayers.

“There are about 15 boats that ship miraa from here to Somalia daily but since Ramadhan started, there are only two boats owned by non-Muslims that are ferrying the produce. This shows how seriously we take our prayers,” said Mnawar.

Lamu island miraa trader Peter Muriungi said he makes as much as Sh50,000 daily from miraa sales.

He is barely making Sh7,000 since Ramadhan started.

“It's hard to sell anything at this time and when you do, it’s not much in terms of profits. The little we make is from our evening sales after our customers break their fast. We are hopeful still,” he said.


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